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Labour sets out five key transport priorities

New transport secretary Louise Haigh promises rail reform, better buses and road repairs

10 July 2024
Louise Haigh arrives at the Department for Transport
Transport secretary Louise Haigh
Transport secretary Louise Haigh

 

Labour’s election landslide has seen it take power for the first time in 14 years. The new government, led by prime minister Sir Kier Starmer, has pledged to grow the economy, with improving the quality of transport across the UK identified as a priority.

Louise Haigh MP has stepped up from holding the shadow transport folio to become transport secretary.

In her first day at work Haigh promised to overhaul transport. The secretary of state convened officials to begin work “at pace” across the Department for Transport on rail reform, further devolution of bus powers, ensuring infrastructure works for the whole country, and supporting local authorities to fix roads for the long term.

In her first address to DfT staff on Monday 8 July 2024, Haigh set out her five strategic priorities. They are:

  • improving performance on the railways and driving forward rail reform
  • improving bus services and growing usage across the country
  • transforming infrastructure to work for the whole country, promoting social mobility and tackling regional inequality
  • delivering greener transport
  • better integrating transport networks.

Haigh’s first official visit later this week will be focused on plans to deliver better buses across Britain, beginning a round of engagement with mayors and devolved leaders who will be key delivery partners.

The transport secretary said: “It will take all our effort but the new motto of our department – our purpose – is simple: move fast and fix things. Our department is so clearly central to achieving the missions for government that the prime minister has committed us to.

“Growth, net zero, opportunity, women and girls’ safety, health – none of these can be realised without transport as a key enabler.”

In her address to staff, Haigh said the DfT would “think about infrastructure and services together at every turn”.

Haigh also said the department would “focus relentlessly” on improving performance on the railways and introduce “much-needed rail reform”.

Labour says newly-appointed rail minister Lord Hendy of Richmond Hill CBE will bring decades of experience to help realise the government’s ambition of transforming infrastructure and improving public transport to deliver for passengers.

In addition, the prime minister has announced the appointment of new ministers at the Department, including future of roads minister Lilian Greenwood MP, local transport minister Simon Lightwood MP, and aviation, maritime and security minister Mike Kane MP.

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